Morning Glories

My daughter wrote a story about someone who sinks into deep depression and then slowly, slowly, pulls out of it. And the story uses the Morning Glory flower as a symbol of hope. When I read the story I found myself sobbing, recognizing myself in the main character. Finally acknowledging the numbness that had taken over my life, which I had grimly tried to ignore as I pushed through each day, determined to not let my family down. And I was filled with a tiny spark of hope. Yes, you can pull yourself through. Depression does go away. Life returns. 

Since I’ve read that story I have been seeing Morning Glories everywhere. As I was driving down the road to take my kids to school, there, look, Morning Glories covering a fence. Hope. As I took a walk, there, look, Morning Glories in the neighbor’s yard. Hope. And yesterday when I found myself actually having the motivation to get out into my yard with my kids, play with them, plant some things, I found Morning Glories in the very back corner of the yard, a place I usually don’t go. And I laughed and took a picture and I knew that it was no longer a spark, but a full blown flame. Hope. 

I went on a retreat several weeks ago. During the retreat I dealt with some old wounds. Or at least, started dealing. And I found myself feeling emotions again. Sure, it was anger and pain, but I was feeling again. I read somewhere that in order to feel joy and happiness we have to allow ourselves to feel anger and pain. When we stuff the bad emotions we end up in a place where all our emotions are flat. We can’t have the good without letting ourselves feel the bad too. As I have allowed myself to process the hard emotions, I have found the lighter ones returning. 

After the retreat I felt myself going silent. I needed a break from words, from thoughts, from interacting with people. I needed to just sit and feel and mourn and heal. And that’s why there haven’t been any new blogs in a while. I didn’t let it bother me. I knew the words would come back when I was ready. And this morning I felt the familiar itch to put my thoughts down where I could see them. And it’s good to be writing again. 

We’ve had a lot going on in the family the last couple months. Made some big decisions about our kids’ schooling. My third child graduated high school. We got to have a mini family reunion as I had all my kids in one place for the graduation. And now summer is going full force as I try to keep track of everyone’s summer plans with kids going in all directions. I am living one day at a time. Welcoming joy back into my life. Keeping an eye out for Morning Glories. And, as always, resting in the fact that God is good. 

I Hate Change

Hey Internet World. Good morning from East Tennessee. It’s a cool, grey day over here right now. I took a brisk twenty minute walk around the neighborhood this morning while my kids were watching tv shows. I put the older kids in charge. Then, when I was one street over from my house, on my homestretch, I heard a child yelling MOM!!!!! It was coming from a distance and I just knew, with all certainty, that it was one of my children. Good grief. I started walking faster. Please let them stop. It was not a cry for help or a cry of distress. Just a, hey, I want Mom back, I know she’s out there somewhere, I guess I’ll call for her. There was silence and I started to hope, maybe it really wasn’t one of my kids, maybe I’m just being paranoid, after all, there are a lot of kids in this neighborhood. I rounded the corner, I had two options, take the shorter way through the alley, or get a little more distance by going all the way around the block. I heard the cry again….MOM!!!!! I took the alley. Heart rate was definitely up now. Finally, the house was in view. I saw the small child sticking her head out the side door, mouth opening to yell again. I called her name and proceeded to lecture her about yelling out the door and how the whole neighborhood could hear her. Of course, the whole neighborhood could probably hear me lecturing her as well. 

 

This of course highlights one of my difficulties I’ve encountered this week as I’ve tried to stick to my new challenge of walking 10,000 steps a day. How do I get in all my walking time? On rainy days I have been going on my elliptical which is fine, but I do prefer to be outside walking. I tried taking one of my more athletic kids on a one hour walk with me, and by the end she was complaining of sore feet. Part of walking is to help de-stress, and walking with a bunch of children who are whining about sore feet and wanting to know when we can go home is not de-stressing. I am also struggling through depression and anxiety at the moment, and part of being in that mindset is that I have an insatiable desire to be alone. I crave solitude. Taking walks by myself is a really nice break for me. 

 

This past weekend was great. My husband was home in the mornings and I could go on a long walk each morning. And then we also went to different places where I was able to walk during the day as well. The weekdays have been more of a challenge. Throw into that the fact that we are trying to transition into a summer routine, and needless to say, I’ve been a bit out of sorts this week. 

 

I had made the observation a while ago that my foster kids did not handle change well. Even if it was a positive change. Disruptions to the routine always result in disruptions to their behavior. I had noticed this and I try to keep it in mind when dealing with different behaviors. But, I must admit, I was a bit condescending about it in my mind. Poor kids, can’t handle change. So weird. 

 

Then this week, as I struggled through changing to a new routine with the kids and have struggled with setting up some healthier habits for myself, I had the big epiphany that I actually don’t handle change well either. Sure, I don’t scream or act out in noticeably bad ways, but I sure do get grumpy, and snappy, and short-tempered and irritable.

 

It’s interesting that God made our world as a world of change. In the Bible, the book of Eccliastes has a beautiful chapter about seasons.

 

Eccliastes 3: 1-11b  

 

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?

10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.

11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time…

 

If we are being honest, when we think about our dream life, our Happily Ever After, it does not involve a lot of change happening. We don’t factor in family members dying. We don’t factor in job changes. We don’t factor in relationships changing and sometimes fading away. We tend to want to take a snapshot of our Best Day and then just stay right there. 

 

I’ll admit, I have not handled this whole Word-Wide Pandemic thing nearly as well as I thought I should. And a big part of that was because it was too much change all at once. And apparently, I don’t like change. 

 

I think one of the rudest awakenings I’ve had as a Christian Adult, was having to face the fact that God had no intention of removing all my problems and making my life easy. As I stood there pointing at the problem, demanding that God make it go away, he simply linked arms with me, and said, here, lets’ walk through this together. By the time you get to the other side, you’ll have become a little bit more like me. 

 

God made our world to be a world of change, and that change forces us to change as well. If we are hanging onto Jesus, those changes are going to be for the better. 

 

So, I will attempt to embrace the idea that change is actually good, not something to avoid, and I will hope that I come out on the other side a little bit stronger, a little bit more patient, a little bit more confident that God’s got me, no matter what. 

Not Bored Anymore

Well, it feels like it’s been several weeks since I last sat down to write, though in truth, it’s only been four days. I feel like I’ve crammed in enough activity in the past week and a half to fill at least one month. If someone were to ask how I was doing, the answer would be Tired. 

 

But it’s a good tired. It’s the tired at the end of a really good workout. The tired after completing some humongous task. It’s the feeling of knowing that you have worked really hard and now you deserve some rest. 

 

Introducing new kids into the family is very similar to having a newborn baby, minus the nursing problems. Our schedules have been tilted, everyone is in a transition mode. There’s excitement, and irritation, and 24hr-a-day parenting. 

 

The first day we got our new kids, that night, my husband hugged me tight, grinned at me, and said, “You know you’re crazy right?” I thought about that for a whole day then confronted him the next night, “If I’m crazy, what does that make you?” He said, “Oh, I’m crazy too.” Apparently we are well-matched. 

 

So, I know this is going to sound weird, but adding these kids to our family has added a lot to my life. I have to admit, I was getting a little bored. Our family was on cruise-control and while parenting is always challenging, there was nothing new or unexpected. I felt very much like I was treading water, trying to figure out how to challenge myself. Maybe I could figure out how to take on more piano students? 

 

Well, I do not feel bored any more. 

 

It makes me think about how God knows best. It seems that he has created us to enjoy change. We have the four seasons, or in other parts of the world, rainy seasons, dry seasons, stormy seasons. We mark time by how the weather changes. We have various holidays and festivities marked out to happen throughout the year, and we are constantly looking forward to these changes. I can’t wait for spring to come! Valentine’s Day is coming up soon! I can’t wait for next fall! 

 

It’s kind of strange that we live in a state of constant change, but we also crave the familiar, the comfortable, our safety zones. The two don’t seem to go together. 

 

I know that when we start getting close to Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Years, there is a feeling of excitement and anticipation. I feel more alive and energetic, just awaiting all the festivities. I also know that when my comfort zone gets shaken up I feel more alive and purposeful. There is more zing in my step. 

 

I wrote in another blog, quite a while ago, about The Prayer of Jabez. How it was all about asking God to increase our boundaries, increase our area of influence. And I never liked that prayer. I never had any desire to make my boundaries any bigger than they are right now…thank you very much. So, recently my boundaries have suddenly increased. And I find myself happy about it. Feeling alive and useful. And thankful. Thankful that God knows a lot better than me what I can and can’t do. Thankful that he was willing to shake me out of my comfort zone. 

 

So, yes, I am tired. But I’m also not bored.